Friday, February 08, 2008

Year of the Rat

Chinese New Year isn't a traditional holiday for me, but I'm paying some attention this year, because yesterday ushered in the Year of the Rat - and I'm a Rat. More specifically, I'm a Water Rat - the elements run on a five-year cycle, so the pairing will only occur every 60 years. I've met two older-generation Water Rats in my life; a friend's mother and a gentleman at the Indiana Historical Society.

So I'm doing a few things to celebrate my animal, if not my element just yet. I just learned that the second day of the New Year is considered to be all dogs' birthday, so you're supposed to be extra-nice to dogs today. I think I've got that one covered.

Then there's the food. Yesterday, I dropped by a celebration on campus, hosted by some of the Chinese student groups. There was a huge crowd, so I didn't get to take any sock pictures. But I did get to enjoy some nice snacks - I'm not exactly sure what any of these things are, but some of them were pretty tasty.

Dumplings are especially important to the celebration - a look back to a time when meat-filled dumplings were a real treat. Now they come pre-prepared and frozen in bags from the nearest Oriental grocery, but they're still quite a treat. Several kind people spent a lot of time over a hot stove, preparing pan after pan of dumplings for their friends and all the strangers who dropped in. I don't know what was in any of the dumplings I ate, but they were a delightful start to a new year. I think visiting an Oriental grocery is going to go on my list of planned celebratory activities.

And there's one activity that's good for celebrating any occasion - knitting! Today I cast on yet another new pair of socks - Lickety Split, from Knitty. The pattern comes with intarsia charts for all the zodiac symbols, so I can have Rat Socks. It also uses yarn that I already have - so that's a good practice to encourage in any New Year. The finicky bits are over for now - you make the 4-toe section and the big toe separately, the join them together - so now it's easy knitting until I'm ready for the heel and the intarsia.

That may be awhile, because tomorrow is the big day - the Hat Attack pattern is released at 9:00 AM! I have my yarn, my needles, my cable needles (which I removed from Oscar's hiding place), and my mailing envelope. I've stocked up on frozen meals so I won't have to cook tomorrow. I'm ready to send Green Fibery Death off just as quickly as possible.

Here is my plan:

8:00 - Wake up. (This part is easier than I like - Oscar wakes up at 8:00 every morning.)
Walk dogs, get dressed, eat breakfast, feed dogs. Begin stalking the Yahoo group.

9:00 - Download pattern. Begin knitting like crazy.

11:00 - Assuming I'm not done, ask myself, "do I have any realistic chance of finishing this by th time the Post Office closes at noon? If the answer is yes, keep knitting. If not, take a break.

11:59 - If I've knit like lightning, I'll be inside the post office mailing my package. I'll ask myself, "do I have any realistic chance of finishing this in time to get it over the campus post office before 4:00, if I hope their pickup is late?" The answer to this will determine how labor-intensive my lunch is. If it's "yes," I have the frozen things.

4:00 - This is, realistically, my last possible time to mail the thing out on Saturday, and even that's a stretch. I will stop knitting at this point, regardless of how much hat is finished.

Tomorrow is also laundry day. Even if I go do laundry after 4:00, I might let myself get away with knitting at the laundromat. But we'll see....I don't want to be too sore to finish the job on Sunday.

I expect the Hat Of Death will go in the mail on Monday morning. I've posted this friendly little greeting, courtesy of, so my target knows I'm thinking fondly of her.

Watch this spot to see how it all turns out!


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